Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Eyes Have It

by Raelene Gorlinsky

We've mentioned common romance stereotypes before. And this one was a question on Kelli's Fiction Feud. But this week hit me with a really stunning example of the heroine eye color issue.

Yes, we all expect romance heroines to be beautiful and somewhat unusual. But what, pray, is wrong with eyes of brown or black or hazel? Nice colors. But it seems like a massive percentage of heroines have blue eyes--almost always with some adjective to enhance the blue. Well, this week I read a story where the heroine had sapphire blue eyes and her BFF had eyes of emerald green! WTF, did they rob a jewelry store? If you see people with eyes of those colors, you can bet that over 90% of them are wearing colored contact lenses.

Do authors know how rare green eyes really are? It is the most recessive eye color gene. I read an article in a science magazine that said that within the next two generations, green eyes will be virtually gone. There are so few people with green (not hazel) eyes, and how often do two of them get together for child-creating? The green eye color has been bred out of the gene pool.

So although I love the colors blue and green, and I appreciate stunning-looking heroines, please...let's try for more chocolate brown or jet black. (Oh, and no one but Elizabeth Taylor gets to claim having lavender eyes.)

13 comments:

Heather Boyd said...

I've noticed a tendancy to give my heroes blue eyes at least in the very first draft of a manuscript. But I've only just realized why... my husband has pale blue eyes. Devoted of me, huh? LOL

Kimber An said...

I haven't really noticed it as a reader. I tend to make the characters look the way I want in my head as I read.

In the stories I write, my heroines always have green or hazel eyes and red hair and the heroes are always blue-eyed blonds, if they're caucasion. I figured I could get away with that until I achieved publication. So, now I have to start mixing them up. (((sigh)))

Angelia said...

My dad has green eyes. My own are hazel and my sister's are gray.

Of the six people in my household, four of them are blue-eyed blonds.

My lone EC heroine has dark eyes and long dark hair. She's half-Israeli, which is MY type. Otherwise, my girls tend to be green-eyed redheads or brown and brown (as is canon for Maid Marian).

Anonymous said...

But there is an element of fantasy in all of this. For the most part, characters in these books are firm, supple, and slim - which already makes them unrealistic relative to the general population. Why shouldn't eye color be treated the same way?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anonymous. I enjoy all eye colors for heroes and heroines, rare or not. What I don't enjoy is being endlessly beaten over the head with the chosen colors and their descriptors (jewel-toned or otherwise) every other page.

ECPI Editors said...

Yes, Anon, the constant repetition of the eye color is something editors run into all the time. Honestly, it's enough to tell the reader once or twice what the eye color is. Then just say "her/his eyes". It's so intrusive if every reference is "blue eyes" -- or electric blue, bright blue, stunning blue, sky blue...

Raelene

Sami said...

From the books I've read I'd have to say common colored eyes (brown, gray or just blue) show up about as often as a fat chick does, and if they do have a common eye color it's only mentioned once or twice not as repetitively as jewel-colored sparkly eyes are.

I really want to read more on traits like eye and hair color though, seeing as I'm a brown/brown who with a brown/hazel produced a blond/blue.

Cara Bristol said...

I used to work with a woman who wore colored contact lens. One day she'd come to work with LAVENDER eyes, the next day with TURQUOISE eyes. Fun, but it didn't look natural.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I think it's okay to have a variety of eye colors. Most of my heroines have hazel or brown eyes, because my eyes are hazel and it's the first color that comes to mind:)

I'm working on a story right now where for the first time a heroine admits her hair color isn't natural. lol

Personally when I read something I like for the hero to be unusual. Like if he's a centuries old vampire, green eyes would work because it hadn't been bred out yet:)

The most common eye color I've seen, including friends and family is blue. I got left out.

Marie Harte said...

This is too funny. I think the same thing when reading. And it's not so much for me that the eye color is blue, but that every time the eye color is mentioned, it's SAPPHIRE blue, or EMERALD green, etc.

Marie

Tracey H. Kitts said...

You know it's for this reason I've never written a blond heroine. When I was a teenager reading romance, EVERYONE was blond. I just got sick of it. LOL And back then they all had AZURE blue eyes;p

Anonymous said...

Every time I read of a lavender-eyed heroine, I want to puke. Who the heck has lavender eyes? Does Elizabeth Taylor actually have lavender eyes? I'm not a big Liz fan, so I don't know. But I suspect that's just a story someone made up, back when movies weren't in color and no one would ever know the diff. Or everyone thought she was just so awesome that it made them think "well...I guess they are kinda lavender...I guess. Oh, Liz! *sigh*." LOL.

Seriously, lavender? Any writer who writes that loses BIG credibility with me...even if Liz's eyes ARE light purple! ;-P

Cindy Procter-King said...

My husband and I both have green eyes. And mine are very green. Especially when I've been crying. Then the white part turns red and I look like a Christmas tree.

One son has green eyes and the other son has blue eyes. No one on either side of our family (sisters, brothers, in-laws, grandparents) has brown eyes. It's all blue and green. Even my dad, who had black hair when he was young and whose skin tans easily and very dark, has a variation of blue eyes - his are grey.

I agree that the jewel descriptions go overboard. What really gets me is when characters have purple eyes. I have never in my life seen someone with purple eyes. Although I have seen eyes such a deep blue that they looked almost indigo. Maybe that's what's meant by purple.